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Faith and Works

‘What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.’ (James 2:14, 16, 17 NIV)

I’ve been in Africa for three days now with Compassion visiting some of their projects and learning about their work. It’s my first visit and in many ways it is blowing me away. But I’m struck each time when the people in the projects say ‘Thank you for loving us’.

For one, it makes me feel a little bit guilty, as I have not sponsored any children from any project that we have visited so far (that happens in a few days’ time). But the people we have met have wanted to thank us as representatives of those who do sponsor the children. However, their thanks isn’t for the money, but for love.

The story of the lady in this picture begins in a way that some might find familiar with: she fell in love and had children with her partner, but then he had to leave because he had no way of repaying some debt and his life was in danger. That was three years ago. He left this lady with nothing but seven children to look after. Family stepped in; her brother offered her some land so she moved and began a new life, and through Compassion’s work two of the children are part of the sponsorship programme, and they were able to build a house comprising two small rooms. They own two stools and eight sleeping mats, one for each person. They had one LED bulb powered by battery. They had a few bowls in the kitchen area (which you can see in the photo behind the house).

Through Compassion their life is beginning to look a little more hopeful. And the mum was full of smiles and gratitude, not for money or for the house, but for love.

Which made me think of James’ challenge. The way we show love is through what we do; works. Without action love is just a nice feeling. But consistent generosity and giving of money through Compassion is a way of loving the neediest of the needy. The project we visited today had twelve children needing sponsorship. Help them by visiting Compassion – and tomorrow I’ll be happy to receive their thanks for love on your behalf.